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Penang's Clan Jetties


It was quiet on Chew Jetty in the run-up to it’s popular Chinese New Year celebration with few visitors, shops mostly closed and residents engaged in domestic activities, the only outdoor activity seemed related to family altars and burning spirit money.

姓周桥 Chew Clan Jetty

Chao Yuan Kong (Temple of Good Health) at the entrance.




When the celebration on the 9th day of the New Year begins, among the last remaining clan-related activity on the jetties, the temple gods will be worshiped with festive food offerings and crowds convene for the lion and dragon dances.




Below, a dragon boat, once a star of hotly contested races among the clans.


The jetties were built beginning in the late 19th century to accommodate immigrant workers and their families who came from coastal areas of China to work as laborers in the growing Asian maritime trade.



Traditional Bubu Fish Traps on Chew Jetty.


Kam Thean Keong Temple at the end of the jetty with a view of the sea.

Chew Jetty is one of seven remaining jetty communities, villages with the family names of the residents, built over the water atop pilings along Weld Quay, the southeastern waterfront of Old George Town, less than 2 miles from the mainland of Malaysia. The seven include the Ong, Lim, Tan, Lee, Yeoh and Koay clan settlements in addition to Chew, now the largest community and most accessible and encouraging of visitors.



Above, along Penkalan Weld between jetties.


The Clan Jetties were on my long list of possible places to see on my first visit to Penang years ago but I never made it to Weld Quay. This time, knowing the town better and sorry that I’d missed it, I made a point of walking from my closer accommodation, on the corner of Lorong Chulia and Stewart. George Town is compact making exploring on foot by far the preferred way of seeing the town and getting a feel for the neighborhoods and the businesses that crowd the shophouses of every street and alley. So the walks to locations like the clan jetties take on a much greater appeal than if one is simply dropped off at the entrance to the day’s target attraction. George Town is, for me, an urban walker’s paradise.

姓李桥 Lee Clan Jetty


Hean Boo Thean Kuan Yin Temple, Yeoh Clan Jetty,
less on the sea than it is on land, from Lee Jetty.

Chew Jetty from Tan Jetty.

All episodes of PortMoresby's Farewell to Asia Tour can be found here.

Next time, walking around Old George Town.

More of PortMoresby's stories are here.


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